New Tourette's Treatment Changes Boy's Life

The experimental surgery implanted two pacemakers with wires deep in his brain.
3:00 | 12/31/13

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Transcript for New Tourette's Treatment Changes Boy's Life
miracle boy, whose condition at one point puts him out of school. Deprived him of so much of his childhood. Dr. Richard besser has been following his case very closely over the years. I try not to think about it. But when I do, it's like looking back at a nightmare. Reporter: Robbie's might nightmare began at age 7, with a diagnosis of tourette's syndrome. Misfiring in the brain, causing involuntary movements called ticks. By the time he was 8, those ticks were brutally overwhelming. Taking over his life. Sometimes they'd last for hours. I had no control over it. I'm conscious. I hear everything. Feel everything that's going on. But it's like someone has a remote control and it's just taking over my body. Reporter: I spoke with robbie and his family in 2010. His body can twist and contort into positio that you wouldn't even think was humanly possible. Reporter: What do they do to control the ticks when he gets one of the severe ones? We protect him, put him on the floor. I have pillows. And just stop him from hurting himself. No medication could control his symptoms. So, in 2011, robbie tried a radical experimental surgery for tourettes. His ticks are so severe. Reporter: The hope, the jolts from the pacemakers could stop robbie's overactive nerve cells from misfiring. This was robbie then. And today -- hey. Good to see you. After ten years of torture, he has his life back. It's been three years. And robbie has had only a few small ticks. How has your life changed in the three years? It's been the most challenging and the most incredible three years of my life. I woke up in full control for the first time. And I'm experiencing this whole world on my own. And I can do everything that a normal person can do. Reporter: He's a sophomore at the pratt institute where he's studying film with a 4.0 average. And an added bonus, he dropped 120 pounds after stopping his medication. We have our lives back. Able to watch him grow, move on with life, and chase his dreams. And just go forward. He's incredibly happy. And we're incredibly happy. Gives you chills. Dr. Richd besser, what great story. We know that robbie has a few small ticks now. How does he manage them? He has a remote control. He can turn up the current if he feels one coming on. He's on the very severe side of tourettes. Most people his age, the ticks have gone away or are controlled by medication. Is this going to apply to others, as well? People with severe tourettes, it offers them hopes. It's experimental. But some insurance is covering it. We have our lives back. Thanks, rich. Speaking of breakouts, 2013 has been a breakout year for

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